Mistlethrush, at From the Field Book (see my blog list) put on a post the other day listing the things whe wanted to achieve before she reached fifty. It was an interesting list containing a lot of bird sightings - she is a keen bird-watcher. I asked her if she minded me developing the idea and she was quite happy for me to do so (as she had pinched it from someone else!)- that's the joy of blogging for you.
I don't know why we measure out our lives in decades, but we do. It could just as easily be in coffee spoons as Prufrock did in the TS Eliot poem, but decades it is. So I set to thinking about what I would like to achieve before my next decade is up. And, surprisingly, I could hardly think of anything - I am happy and contented with my life as it is and I do everything I want to do and enjoy doing it. I can't say more than that. But here is my very short list:-
Before my decade is up, I want to:-
Master my computer. My husband used to say that when you develop a new skill either you beat it, or it beats you. He was referring to his two hobbies - painting and playing a musical instrument. He always said that he felt he had mastered painting but that music always had the upper hand. That is exactly how I feel about my computer - sometimes it is like a little malevolent spirit sitting here waiting to push a few gremlins into the works. So definitely I want to become a Computer Whizz Kid.
See a puffin. When I went to the East Coast I had just missed them - they had been gone about a week. When I went to the Mull of Galloway they were expected any day. Reminds me of Dorothy Parker talking about gardens. When anyone visited her garden she would say - it was so lovely last week and in about a fortnight there will be such a lot out, but I'm afraid you have just come at the wrong time. Going up the coast of Norway I saw thousands of Little Auks, but ne'er a puffin.
Continue to see the world until I am too decrepit to travel abroad. My heroine in that respect is Penelope Chetwynd, the wife of John Betjamen, who used to take people across India looking at the temples, which she loved fiercely. She finally died in the middle of one of her tours - the travellers went into the temple, she sat down on the steps outside to admire the view and when they came out she was dead.
I honestly cannot think of anything else I really want to do, except to live my life to the full until the last possible moment. When my decade is up I shall review the situation again but I can't think it will have changed much - I just want to LIVE, so I'll let the poet Edwin Morgan have the last word. In his marvellous poem "Epilogue: Seven Decades" he ends by saying,
No candle-light please, keep that for Europe.
Switch the whole thing right on.
When I go I want it bright,
I want to catch whatever is there
in full sight.